4th Sunday OTB

Deut 18:15-20, 1 Cor 7:32-35, Mk 1:21-28 

Dear Friends! We heard in the Gospel, “In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are? the Holy One of God!”

Every time Jesus met someone demon-possessed He kicked the demons out! This case is unusual because of where it took place – in the very house of God! Why in the world would a man possessed by demons even be interested in going to the house of God? Why would the devil want to go to church? Because the devil has always been religious. The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still. We believe there is one God. Good! EVEN THE DEMONS BELIEVE THAT. The devil is monotheistic. He knows there’s only one God. Problem is, he doesn’t worship God. When he shows up at church it isn’t for true worship but rather for false worship.

He loves to see folks go to church to talk about other worshippers. He loves to see us go to uplift our own goodness. He loves it when we are preoccupied with other things – like who hurt our feelings recently, and what so and so thinks about us. He loves to hear our critical comments about the Sunday worship and the pastor’s preaching. The devil loves it when we don’t put our hearts into praising God. He likes seeing us just going through the motions. He can stand anything but worship of God in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

The demons know who Jesus is. The one in the synagogue did. He believed in the Incarnation of Christ – that he was both God and man at the same time. The demon clearly identified Christ’s humanity by calling Him “Jesus of Nazareth”. But he also identified Christ by calling Him “the Holy One of God”. (verse 24)

The church must surely be on guard against false doctrine. But the danger we are sometimes less aware of is false worship. We must always guard against dead religion. We should consistently re-evaluate why we worship and how we worship.

2. The devil goes to church because he’s looking for prey. Notice how the plural pronouns indicate just how closely the demon was identified with the man through whom he was speaking. “What do you want with US Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy US?” (verse 24)

This may not have been a case of multiple demon possession. It may have been an instance of one demon making his host a puppet. The “us” was the demon and his host. Satan’s ultimate goal is to have control. He can possess those who don’t have the Holy Spirit within. He can’t possess true Christ followers, but he does want to manipulate us and hinder our work for God and the growth of our faith.

3. The devil goes to church because he’s seeking worship. The devil wants to be worshipped as if he were God. Remember what the devil said to Jesus? “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:9)

Satan will be able to accomplish for a short while what he has longed for all along. But until that day comes the true follower of Christ is involved in a struggle. Our great struggle is not with paying our bills or staying healthy. Our greatest struggle is a spiritual one.

The demoniac cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? “ What does Jesus have to do with these unclean spirits that live in each one of us? The answer we find in the Gospel is equally true today: Jesus came to drive out the unclean spirits living inside of us.

Jesus did not use his authority and divine power to rule and control people. He came to set people free. Hence, let us approach Jesus with trusting faith so that he may free us from the evil spirits that keep us from praying and prevent us from loving and sharing our blessings with others. Jesus also frees us from all the “evil spirits” of fear, jealousy, envy, addictions, compulsions, selfishness, anger, resentment and hostility. May he free us from all those spirits which make us deaf, dumb, blind, lame and paralyzed, physically and spiritually!

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